My sister gave me an IOU at Christmastime for God Help the Child, Toni Morrison’s latest book. I waited for months for this book to arrive. And then when it did, I had to work my way through an enormous library stack. Well, I finally committed to stopping all library requests and reading the books from my stack. One of the first I made room for was this one. And it was worth the wait.
The theme of this book can be summed up in one sentence: “What we do to children and how we treat them will haunt us for the rest of our lives.” The story centers on Bride, a beautiful, ambitious young woman with startlingly dark blue-black skin and unforgettable beauty. Entering her life are Booker, the man she loves and loses, Rain, an odd and wise-beyond-years white child, and her own mother, Sweetness, whose fear causes her to withhold physical and emotional affection towards Bride. This childhood struggle yields a shocking turn-of-events with consequences that will last throughout Bride’s adulthood.
My sister read this novel, and we disagreed on it. She did not care for it, while I was completely compelled by it. She felt that the novel needed a solid round of edits, whereas I had no major complaints. This was not a five-star book, but I felt that the characterizations were interesting and moving. Perhaps the plot was not as strong as other Morrison novels, but I think that the short length of Morrison’s latest books have given way to room for character studies.